ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — The Canadiens continued their offseason moves as they reached an agreement with the three remaining restricted free agents that filed for arbitration.
On July 11th, Joel Armia signed a two-year contract with the team prior to the arbitration hearing scheduled for July 20th. The contract has an average annual value of $2.6-million. Armia scored a personal best 13 goals last season and added 10 assists in 57 games. He missed almost two months of play after suffering a knee injury in early November. At the end of the contract, Armia will be an unrestricted free agent.
Later in the day, the team announced that they signed Artturi Lehkonen to a two-year contract that has an average annual value of $2.4-million. The arbitration hearing was scheduled for August 3rd. Lehkonen recorded a personal high of 31 points last season, playing all 82 of his team’s games. At the end of the contract, Lehkonen will still be a restricted free agent.
“I just wanted to stay in Montreal, and now two years made sense,” said Lehkonen when he met the media to talk about his new contract. “I can still still play a lot better than I showed last year. I wasn’t happy in my point production, or my goals stats were at the end of the year, so I know, I still have a lot to prove.”
Lehkonen went through a 29 game scoreless drought last season. During that span, he was able to create scoring chances, but wasn’t able to finish. He completed the season with 11 goals, the lowest total in his three year NHL career. He scored 18 and 12 goals in his previous two seasons. His play without the puck is what made him essential to the team.
I think that both contracts were fair deals. Both players are represented by agent Mika Rautakallio.
On Friday, the Canadiens announced that they signed Charles Hudon to a one-year contract worth $800,000. The arbitration hearing was scheduled for August 2nd. Last season, he played in only 32 games and recorded five points in those games.
It was reported in January that the Hudon camp asked management to play him or trade him. “Well that’s part of the game. When someone is not doing great, for sure the agent want to do some movement and same as me, but my focus was to play hockey,” said Hudon when asked whether him or his agent asked for a trade last season. “That was before and now I’m focusing on today.”
I think that the organization showed their intentions in June when they presented Hudon a qualifying offer for a two-way contract. A contract that was rejected. I’m not expecting Hudon to start the season in Montreal. The most likely scenario in my opinion is that prior to the start of the season, he gets placed on waivers to be sent to Laval. From a Canadiens perspective, I think that the one-way contract makes him less attractive to another team versus a two-way contract.
Kinkaid Visits Montreal
Keith Kinkaid visited Bell Sports Complex last Monday for the first time since signing with the Canadiens on July 1st. “I’m just happy to be here to have another opportunity to play in the best league in, in the world. And now it’s work with the guy like Carey Price is going to be tremendous,” said Kinkaid when he met the media in Brossard. “Hopefully I can take take his load work and lighten it up for him a little bit. I want to be a guy that they can count on when they need to, somebody to win a game and give Carey a night off.”
Price played 66 games last season. That is a number that is too high according to goalie coach, Stephane Waite. In an interview with RDS, Waite mentioned that he would like Price to play between 50 and 60 games next season. “Carey would like to be in goal for 82 games, there’s no doubt about that. With the trips, the pressure, the back-to-back games, it can’t be done. There’s still seven years remaining on his contract, we have to be prudent with his usage.”
“I just want a guy that I can relate to; obviously, as a goaltender, you’re going to relate to whoever your partner is in some aspect,” Price described his ideal backup in a recent interview with The Athletic. “But I feel like I’m pretty compatible with whoever I’m matched up with. I’m pretty easy going in that regard. But it’s nice to have a guy that you don’t have to babysit or anything like that. I don’t really want to be a mentor at this point. I want a guy that I can work with.”
Kinkaid’s statistics last season were similar to those of Antti Niemi. “He had some highs and lows last season, but I prefer basing myself on his entire career. He had good numbers before that, I’m counting on those.” said Waite. “I like his size, I like his technique, he’s a goalie that’s in control. There’s things that I want to modify or change, but they’re not major things.”
Markov Wants to Return
RDS reported that Sergei Isakov, Andrei Markov‘s agent, reached out to the Canadiens a couple of months ago, but the organization never got back in touch. Markov has played for Kazak in the KHL for the past two seasons, where he’s collected 50 points in 127 games, including playoffs.
Markov has played 990 career games with the Canadiens and signed in the KHL after unable to reach an agreement with the Habs at the end of the 2016-17 season. Markov had an excellent career in Montreal, but at this stage of his career, I agree with the organization not being interested in his services.
The Canadiens have Shea Weber and Jeff Petry as veterans on the roster that can mentor the younger defensemen on the team.
By Chris G., Senior Writer
All Habs Hockey Magazine
Copyright © 2019 Rocket Sports
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